This fifth and latest album from the Dears suggests that these Montreal natives need to clear out some Britpop cobwebs. Despite thinly veiled sonic references to Blur and Pulp, in particular, the album is charming, with a few catchy aural treasures. Throbbing rock anthem "Blood" carries singer Murray Lightbaum's Damon Albarn–like vocals on a raging wave of guttural guitar riffs and pounding drums. A dazed, distorted intro to "Thrones" recalls the Jesus and Mary Chain's "Just like Honey" but pulls out a more original-sounding blast of jangly guitars and hissing cymbals as the song peaks. Standouts include the moody, hip-hop-like opener, "Omega Dog," which gives Lightbaum the opportunity for some falsetto acrobatics over video-game synths and staccato percussion. And then there's the introspective ballad "Tiny Man," with dusky, low-key acoustic-guitar strumming that highlights the inventive melody. Lightbaum certainly has some pretty pipes — he hits velvety, super-low notes before shooting up to a silvery falsetto. But Degeneration Street
is a bit of a tease, a solid alternative-rock album with some exciting sounds that afford only a peek into the Dears' potential.